Meeting the needs of toddlers and preschoolers on the playground

Centre

It’s important to keep the developmental needs of toddlers and preschoolers in mind when you’re designing playgrounds for your childcare facility or school. Playgrounds for young kids not only help them build their senses, and motor and cognitive skills, but they also teach them about cooperation and social imaginative play.

Keep the following five considerations in mind when designing early childhood playgrounds:

  1. Interaction Interactive playground features allow kids to get firsthand experience of the principle of cause-and-effect.
  2. Sensory Playgrounds should provide children a wealth of different tactile experiences, which can come from play with textured surfaces and by incorporating natural materials like sand and water.
  3. Challenge Play environments with developmentally appropriate challenges and puzzle-like features can help instill critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
  4. Imagination Children should be able to use various components of the playground to express their creativity and to invent imaginative scenarios.
  5. Independence Playground structures should allow kids to feel independent through solo play, which fosters confidence and creativity without sacrificing safety.

Find more resources for your daycare of preschool playground including ways to keep your playground safe, information on fundraising and playground grants, and some of our key partnerships at playlsi.com.

From prison yard to Grammy’s Garden

Grammy's Garden

A former prison might seem an odd place for a childcare center. But places change over time, as do the people who inhabit those places. And when those people are between the ages of 6 months and 5 years, they experience a lot of change in a short amount of time.

Prince George's County Employees' Childcare Center.

Read about the metamorphosis of the play area at Prince George’s County Employee’s Childcare Center below, and get the full story at playlsi.com.

Client: Prince George’s County Employee’s Childcare Center

Designers: Brenda Iraola, landscape architect, and Sparks@Play

Goal: Develop a fresh narrative for the existing play environment around the theme of transformation

Solution: Drawing on the memories of her Grandmother Freda’s farm in Minnesota, Brenda divided the courtyard into four play areas where kids can follow the journey of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. A larger-than-life caterpillar welcomes explorers into an enormous, interactive garden. Play structures are outfitted with flowers, ladybugs, bees, ants, mushrooms and leaves to create an immersive storybook experience.

Prince George's County

Five considerations for your toddler and preschool playgrounds

When you’re designing a playground to meet the needs of toddlers and preschoolers, it’s important to keep their developmental needs in mind. Playgrounds for young kids not only help them build their senses and motor and cognitive skills, but they also teach them about cooperation and social imaginative play. To help you create a dream playground for your daycare or preschool, we’ve created a fun infographic.

See below to learn the five developmental needs to consider when designing early childhood playgrounds.

5 Developmental Needs to Consider when Designing Early Childhood Playgrounds

Playground planning for preschools and daycare centers

Choosing the right playground equipment for preschools or daycare centers may seem a little daunting at first, but we’ve compiled a list of industry-specific resources to make the planning process easier. Even more, we have a playground planning checklist with five easy steps to create the ultimate childcare playground.

Assisi Early Learning Center, Madison, Miss.

Assisi Early Learning Center, Madison, Miss.

Toddlers and preschoolers always find new, but not always safe, ways to play. That’s why we make playground safety a top priority by creating age- and developmentally appropriate products using the best materials and innovative features.

Trinity Church, Lubbock, Texas

Trinity Church, Lubbock, Texas

Securing funds is an important step in creating dream preschool or toddler playgrounds. And we can help with that! We have fundraising programs available, can help you find playground grants for child care centers and we have purchasing contracts to help expedite the buying process.

Learning and Wellness Center, Chicago, Ill.

Learning and Wellness Center, Chicago, Ill.

Check out our list of early childhood playground resources for even more information on how to plan an outdoor playground for daycare centers including details about our partnerships, certifications, and how to design an inclusive and accessible playground.

More to explore while using less

After observing kids at a local childcare facility, we realized that 2- and 3-year-olds are reaching specific developmental milestones. They’re on the move (to say the least), and are stimulated by things that move! That’s why we created Smart Play: Motion, a new playstructure with lots of moving parts that’s scaled just right for developing toddlers and preschoolers. Kids get plenty of developmentally appropriate challenges with 16 interactive play events.

Smart Play: Motion 3D

From a shape-and-fit table to a sensory station, every bit of Smart Play: Motion has some aspect of interactivity to it. Instead of creating just a handrail, our designers incorporated moveable puzzle pieces to create more engagement. And there’s a race car track that encourages cooperative play and interaction. Even more, this compact playstructure is completely accessible to welcome children of all abilities.

Smart Play: Motion photo

Smart Play: Motion not only provides smart design to help create smart kids, but it’s manufactured with a smart use of materials. The manufacturing of Smart Play: Motion—similar to the manufacturing process of all our playground products—is focused on getting as many components as possible out of the smallest amount of material.

Learn more about Smart Play: Motion, and check out the video of this playground design below.

Reconnecting kids with nature

In the past few years, we’ve noticed an increase in childcare facilities focused on nature-inspired activities and nature-themed playground equipment. And the Early Childhood Family Center (ECFC) in Stillwater, Minn., is just one example of a childcare facility providing opportunities for kids to reconnect with nature.

Early Childhood Family Center in Stillwater, Minn.

“Our ECFC chose a nature-inspired playground, which accents the surrounding landscape,” explained Betty Soine, early childhood supervisor. “Also, research supports the value of using natural environments to encourage children’s overall growth and development. Our parent education program encourages parents to get outside with children during all seasons to experience the variety of outdoor environments, breathe the fresh air and explore the wonders of nature through the eyes of their child. An outdoor play environment that mimics nature supports a health and wellness focus for all our families and staff.”

Help kids develop their balance with the Infant Balance Beam.

The Early Childhood Family Center added a nature-inspired playground designed for kids ages 6 to 23 months. The Infant Single Poly Slide, Infant Balance Bar and Chimes Panel provide the right amount of sensory stimulation, balance, coordination and strength challenges. Even more, a play space for kids ages 2 to 5 has realistic bark, wood and rock textures, natural colors and discovery items like chipmunks, worms and insects built into the Log Stack Climber, Log Steppers and Recycled Tree House Roofs.

Provide age-appropriate climbing challenge with the Log Stack Climber.

“Equipment was chosen with children of all abilities in mind,” said Betty. “Our team of staff professionals studied and selected types of equipment that could support building strength, mobility and cognitive skills through interactive outdoor play. The children are engaged in all types of movement and activities everyday that encourage and support physical, social and emotional, language and cognitive development. Our nature-inspired playground does exactly what we envisioned and more!”